Lewis Hamilton grabbed a sensational pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix following a chaotic qualifying session spiced up by rain.
The capricious nature of the Ardennes made for an enthralling final 10 minutes as at one stage it appeared as though Paul Di Resta would be on pole. But as the rain eased in the dying stages over the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and a dry line appeared, Di Resta dropped to fifth in his Force India.
In the final 30 seconds Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, then Red Bull’s Mark Webber and teammate Sebastian Vettel were all on pole, only to be deposed by last man over the line Hamilton in his Mercedes.
Back in 1995...
For the fourth successive race Hamilton will lead away the field, the first time since Damon Hill in 1995 a Briton has achieved such a feat. It is also the 31st pole of his F1 career, elevating him to seventh on the all-time list, just one behind another world champion Briton in Nigel Mansell.
Hamilton will have the Red Bulls behind him in Vettel and Webber, followed by Rosberg and Di Resta as Force India at least played a blinder for the Scot in the closing session.
The last 10 minutes started with rain falling, and with nine drivers venturing out on slicks in a bid to beat the weather, only for it to become apparent they would have to switch to the intermediate wet tyres. Di Resta, however, was the only one who started off on the inters, and for the majority of the session he was on provisional pole.
McLaren’s Jenson Button joins Di Resta on row three, followed by the Lotus’ of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, whilst the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa start ninth and 10th.
‘Feel fortunate to get there’
Hamilton was wearing a broad smile post qualifying, perhaps realising his good fortune after his car had not appeared that strong in practice. He said: “When I started that last lap I thought ‘Oh my God!’ as I was seventh or eighth and about three seconds down. “I ran slightly wide at the first corner and I dropped to five, six seconds back, so I didn’t know what was going on.
“But I kept pushing. It’s a blessing I am up here. Generally I feel comfortable in changing conditions when I can find the limit. “I pushed through the middle sector and really caned it. I feel so fortunate to get pole.”